Tuesday, June 22, 2021

MSU beats Maryland twice to pick up 1st wins of the season

February 15, 2021
<p>The Spartans celebrate winning a set during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.</p>

The Spartans celebrate winning a set during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

MSU picked up their first wins of the season as they beat Maryland in both matches this weekend.

On Friday, MSU jumped out to an aggressive start beating Maryland 25-20 and 25-16 in the first two sets and then 25-16 in the fourth set. On Saturday, MSU won in three sets, 3-1, over the Terrapins.

Freshman Sarah Franklin continued her dominance scoring nine kills, but she had plenty of help as sophomore Biamba Kabengele came out the gate with seven kills. 

Junior Naya Gros was dominant at the net on both defense and offense. She ended the second set with six kills and three blocks in what was a well-balanced performance from her.

MSU couldn’t complete the sweep, however, losing the third set, 25-21.

In the third set, Maryland heated up and cleaned up their play scoring 15 kills with only one error, while MSU was inconsistent with eight errors in the set and only hit .150 while not getting a single block.

MSU bounced back in the fourth set and secured their first win of the season. The offense was stellar, even without one of their key players, sophomore Cecilee Max-Brown.

MSU’s play was aggressive and dominant at the net. Kabengele finished the match with 13 kills, while Franklin had 16 and senior Alyssa Chronowski had a quiet 11 kills.

All three of the leading scorers for MSU surely had thanks for freshman Celia Cullen as she piled up 50 assists on the day along with three service aces.

Saturday goes well too for Cathy George and MSU

The second day of competition proved to be a lot closer than the first, but MSU maintained their aggressive style of play and kept pace. Then the Spartans squeaked past Maryland in the first set of the second day, winning 27-25.

Franklin picked up right where she left off, notching six kills in the first set, while Kabengele also fed off her energy from the first day and started with three kills. MSU managed to capitalize off Maryland's 8 errors in the first set, as well as secure four aces.

Maryland would halt MSU’s momentum and go on to win the second set, 25-19, behind a 7-0 run toward the end of the set along with a .462 hitting percentage.

MSU slipped up and seemed to shoot themselves in the foot this set. They ended the set with ten service errors on the first half of the game and zero blocks. MSU would once again shake off the set loss and go on to win the third set.

In the third set, where MSU won 25-23, the Spartans played excellent on both offense and defense. MSU had 14 kills in the third set alone. They also only had four service errors.

The Spartans won the fourth and final set, 25-22, with fundamentally sound play, to notch their second win this season. Franklin dominated the entire weekend, notching 20 kills in the second match to go along with three aces.

Kabengele showed she is a do-it-all type player, notching five aces and 10 kills on Saturday. Cullen once again stacked up the assists with 40, as well as playing great defense with seven digs to complement senior Jamye Cox’s nine.

Naya Gros showed her defensive value with eight blocks on the day.

MSU didn’t exit the weekend without areas of improvement. MSU had 23 service errors in the second match alone.

Maryland has strong performances on the weekend

MSU also was able to overcome some huge individual performances by Maryland.

On the first day, redshirt junior Jada Gardner scored 20 kills, and after an unusually quiet first day, their star player senior Erika Pritchard torched the Spartans with 21 kills.

MSU still looks to be in good shape as their team becomes comfortable and finds a way to thrive around their young freshmen core of Franklin and Cullen who have continually shined so far.

MSU looks to keep up the momentum as they finally match up with rival University of Michigan at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17 after having their previous matchup postponed due to COVID-19 issues with U of M.

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